Japanese: Beyond beginner … Taking control

Over the past few weeks I’ve read some interesting blog posts (see links below) which one again have prompted me to consider my own language learning. I’ve written before how for a beginner the resources and guidance available can be overwhelming. The tricky part is to select the resources which are useful and enjoyable for you whilst at the same providing support to make sure you make progress. In my next post I’m going to review how I’ve been learning Chinese for the last five months – the successes and the pitfalls. But today I’ve been pondering again about my Japanese progress. In my language learning I do like to have a structure to my week. I fill in my diary both with Chinese and Japanese tasks. I find this is important as  I have little time and it also stops me wandering off or trying to accomplish everything only to become distracted or burn out.

On good weekdays I can have about four study hours but I always plan for the minimal – at least one hour Chinese, one hour of Japanese. I try to have two heavy days of Japanese and two heavy days of Chinese. To balance this, I have a couple of part-time days. The minimal here is vocabulary for Chinese and reading for Japanese – I often do more but I find I really need to rest the little grey cells. 🙂 In amongst this I try to see my ITalki friends at least once a week to boost my skills. Now whilst I’m pretty comfortable with my Chinese activities, I’m floundering with my Japanese. So, today I’m setting up a ‘plan’ that I’ll be trying for the next four weeks.
I think it’s time I made the most of my resources. For the next month as well securing my JLPT N4 knowledge through my language partners on italki, I’m also going to be revisiting the grammar points in written tasks as well as re-doing all those practice test books. This isn’t something I’ll find dull to do as I quite like doing the mini-quizzes and it’s also helping me to highlight vocabulary problems as well. In amongst this consolidation process I’m setting time aside to secure my Kanji skills. I’ll soon be reaching my target set for 500 characters and here too there have been successes and pitfalls. Nonetheless, I need to make this a constant part of my studies as I’ve certainly forgot some of the readings 😦 Finally, though, I’m turning to more active reading. I try to read something everyday. Sometimes this can be a fleeting few pages of a manga and others a newspaper article. I think I need to keep a balance between fun, enjoyable reading and reading where I really pay a great deal of attention to vocabulary and grammar. The tough part is keeping a record of the unknown vocabulary which doesn’t make it a dull, arduous task. We’ll see. I’m going to use my Kindle App for some of these books as it has an online dictionary. Though it won’t give me the words in English it does allow me to understand the Kanji. Like I say, the biggest problem here is making sure that I’m enjoying the reading process. I do like noticing new, difficult words or thinking about particular structures but I really don’t want this to hinder my enjoyment and for the reading book to become an alternative textbook. I have a few books I’ll be trying and around the end of December I’ll reflect on my progress.  To secure, advance and enjoy! Here goes –

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